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Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Peterhof Marks Fountain Closing With 1812 Ode
Topic: Peterhof


The former imperial estate of Peterhof is hosting a large-scale two-day event on Sept. 14 and 15, turning its annual closing of the fountains festival into a spectacular visual feast. Twice a year, when the fountains are turned on in May and off in September, Peterhof draws crowds of locals and tourists alike. An estimated 30,000 came to the fountain festivals last year, according to the organizers.

This autumn, the closing of the fountains ceremony is dedicated to the Russian victory in the 1812 Napoleonic wars. More than 600 musicians, artists and performers will join multimedia artists and lighting designers to plunge spectators into the atmosphere of the heroic military campaign, the show’s creators promise.

Titled “Ode to the Fatherland,” the show will take audiences to an Imperial ball, the Battle of Borodino, the fire of Moscow and the gallery of heroes of the 1812 campaign, with the use of 3D-mapping technologies.

The show will be performed against the facade of the Grand Palace at Peterhof.

“For the first time, we have decided to devote our festival to a particular historic event, and this event carries a special significance for every Russian,” said Yelena Kalnitskaya, director of the Peterhof Museum and Estate.

“Our guests will see a reconstruction of the famous Battle of Borodino, with the show serving as a sort of time machine. It is going to be an absolutely thrilling sight that will be crowned by fireworks.”

According to Kalnitskaya, the show took almost a year to prepare. The team behind it included State Chief Herald and Chairman of the Heraldic Council of Russia Georgy Vilinbakhov, the renowned artist Oleg Orlov and lighting designer Gleb Filshtinsky, arguably Russia’s most renowned specialist in his field.

“We are proud to treat local audiences to a world-class show,” Filshtinsky said. “And we are also proud that we did not use a penny from the state budget, especially considering that this is a performance with a distinctly patriotic feel. I would love for “Ode to the Fatherland” to make Russian spectators proud of their native country, and I also hope that such festivities will unite us around genuine values and real victories, rather than vanity or ideological fast food.”

The shows begin at 9 p.m., and tickets cost 500 rubles.

© The St. Petersburg Times. 12 September, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:37 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 11 September 2012
Church Is Under Attack, Russian Patriarch Says
Topic: Russian Church


Photo: Patriarch Kirill speaking in an interview to Rossia 1 television on Sunday. 

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church used a Sunday prayer service and a state television interview to argue that the church he presides over is under attack from foes who he said fear its post-Soviet revival and want to destroy its places of worship.

Patriarch Kirill did not name the punk music group Pussy Riot but was clearly referring to the collective, three of whose members were sentenced to jail time for performing a "punk prayer" at the altar of a Moscow cathedral during which they criticized President Vladimir Putin.

Since the verdict on Aug. 17, which drew sharp Western criticism that Moscow said was politically motivated, vandals in Russia and Ukraine have cut down a handful of wooden crosses in support of Pussy Riot, but band members have condemned the vandalism and said they had nothing to do with it.

Kirill suggested that "opponents" were trying to derail the post-Soviet resurgence of Russian Orthodox Christianity, the dominant faith since tsarist times, and he warned: "We will not stop."

Speaking in a state-television interview and at a service at Christ the Savior Cathedral commemorating the 1812 Battle of Borodino, which helped Russia defeat Napoleon, Kirill used military imagery to make his point.

"I cannot shake the thought that this is an exploratory attack … to test the depth of faith and commitment to Orthodoxy in Russia," Kirill told Rossia television. "And today, I think those who launched this provocation have seen that standing before them is not a faceless, quiet mass … but a people that is capable of protecting what it holds sacred."

He portrayed anyone attacking the church as an enemy of Russia, saying aggression against the church was "aggression against our cultural core, against our code of civilization."

At the service, where a crowd of thousands spilled onto the street outside, Kirill said the fight against Napoleon's forces 200 years ago was a lesson for today's Russia, which he suggested was threatened by "blasphemy and outrage."

"Those who would invite us all to mock our shrines, reject our faith and, if possible, destroy our churches" are "testing the people's ability to protect their holy places," he added.

Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were sentenced to two years in jail for their stunt, during which they beseeched the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin.

They were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, a charge they have denied. They said they were protesting Putin and the church's political support for him in what the Constitution says is a secular state.

Shortly before the Pussy Riot performance, Kirill likened Putin's time in power to a "miracle of God." Putin was prime minister at the time and in the midst of a campaign for the March presidential election.

Many Russians found the Pussy Riot protest offensive, but critics of the Russian Orthodox Church's leadership say it has overreacted and risks fomenting violence by repeatedly calling for believers to protect holy places.

Russian Orthodox activists have formed vigilante groups to conduct patrols and protect churches and cemeteries, and activists have harassed people expressing support for Pussy Riot.

Putin's opponents say the prosecution of Pussy Riot was part of a Kremlin crackdown on dissent. Lawyers for the three appealed the verdict and sentences late last month.

Kirill rejected concerns about growing ties between his church and the state, saying what is happening is "not a merger but the Christianization of society."

"That is what frightens our opponents. … It is fear in the face of the fact that [Russian] Orthodoxy, which was practically destroyed in Soviet times, has been able to return to the life of the people — not as much as we would like, of course. But maybe this whole uproar is being raised to stop us," he said. "I want to say: We will not stop."

Some 70 percent of the country's citizens describe themselves as Russian Orthodox Christians, but far fewer regularly attend church, though all major faiths have enjoyed revivals since the 1991 collapse of the communist Soviet Union.

Putin, a former KGB officer in power since 2000, has tried to balance promoting the church, which is identified with the country's ethnic Russian majority, with celebrating a secular state of many religions.

© The Moscow Times. 11 September, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:40 AM EDT
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Monday, 10 September 2012
Golitsyn Palace Near Moscow Restored
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 4 minutes
Topic: Country Estates


The Golitsyn Palace at Bol'shiye Vyazemy has reopened as a museum after an extensive restoration. Situated near Moscow, the palace of Prince Boris Vladimirovich Golitsyn has a rich history


A portrait of the Emperor Paul I maintains a place of honour in the main hall of the palace, who visited the palace. The palace includes two floors, and each room includes portraits of famous nobles associated with Golitsyn.


Funding for the restoration of the 228-year-old palace was provided from the budgets of both the federal and Moscow region. Parquet floors, similar to that at Pavlovsk Palace were painstakingly restored.


The estate, which is situated on the old road to Smolensk offered the shortest route to Western Europe, and thus played a remarkable role in the events of the War of 1812. Both Kutuzov and Napoleon slept in the palace. It was here that General Kutuzov stopped after the Battle of Borodino, and on the first floor of the palace in which he made crucial decisions. He and his army fled the palace with Napoleon and his troops in pursuit.


Napoleon was visited by his French generals, all of whom were impressed with the palace and its luxurious interiors. Ironically, the palace was spared major looting by the French invaders. Sadly, the palace suffered a much worse fate under the Soviets.


These historic events are commemorated in a unique exhibit dedicated to Russia’s victory in the Patriotic War of 1812. The restorations of the palace are expected to be completed by the end of 2012.


© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 September, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:50 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2012 8:54 AM EDT
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Sunday, 9 September 2012
Russian Millenium Monument Gets $13,000 Scrubbing
Topic: Russian History


Veliky Novgorod’s remarkable monument celebrating the 1,000th anniversary of Russian statehood is getting a $13,000 facelift ahead of the 1,150th anniversary, a representative of Novgorod’s State Museum and Conservancy told RIA Novosti.

Unveiled on September 8, 1862, the 50-foot-high Millenium of Russia monument traces the first 1,000 years of Russian history with bronze statues of 129 rulers and cultural figures, from the Varangian chieftain Rurik to the Romanovs and 19th century artists and scholars.

In a nod to local sensibilities, one notable figure was left off the monument: Ivan the Terrible, who sacked Novgorod in 1570, massacring thousands of city residents.

Veliky Novgorod, the seat of the medieval Republic of Novgorod, will celebrate the 1,150th anniversary of Russian statehood on September 21-23.

The monumental cleanup job, the first since the 1990s, targets removal of accumulated dirt, soot, dust, lichen, moss and bird droppings.

© RIA Novosti. 09 September, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:47 AM EDT
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Friday, 7 September 2012
Royal Russia Annual No. 2
Topic: Books

 ||| Click Here to Order Your Copy! |||

ROYAL RUSSIA is pleased to announce that the second issue of our OFFICIAL magazine is now available.

This issue offers 8 full-length articles, many written by Russian historians and appear in English for the very first time. Plus, 3 photograph collections of the Russian Imperial family and their legacy enhance this issue.

Features include a full-colour cover highlighting the cover story: Tsar Alexander II and Tsarskoye Selo, large 8-1/2" x 11" format, 112 pages, over 135 black and white photographs, and more!

Price: $20.00 CAD + Postage.

© Royal Russia and Gilbert's Books. 07 September, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:14 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2012 9:24 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 5 September 2012
Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo Marks 100th Anniversary
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo

Entrance to the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo
Celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo were held on September 2nd, which included a divine liturgy attended by local parishoners, visiting dignitaries and representatives of the St. Petersburg diocese.

Construction of the Cathedral began in 1908, in  a meadow of the north-east corner of the Alexander Park, the location having been selected by Emperor Nicholas II.

The foundation of the Cathedral was laid on 20 August, 1909 in the presence of the Imperial family. The construction was financed by the tsar himself who contributed 150,000 gold rubles from his own personal funds.

The Feodorovsky Sovereign's Church became the household church of the last Russian Imperial family. The Cathedral consisted of two churches, the upper consisted of the main altar dedicated to the Feodorovsky Icon of Our Lady and a side chapel consecrated in honour of the Moscow Metropolitan Alexis, the All-Russia Miracle Worker. The lower part of the building housed the Cave Church with the altar dedicated to Saint Serafim of Sarovsk the Miracle Worker, and the private chapel of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

The Feodorovsky Icon of Our Lady, the main icon of the Cathedral, was regarded as a symbol of the Romanov dynasty and the crown itself.

During the Soviet years the Cathedral was descrated and pillaged before it was finally closed in 1933.

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. It was consecrated again on February 29th, 1992. Restoration of the Cathedral lasted nearly 20 years, and once again, the Cathedral is the crown jewel of Tsarskoye Selo. Due to its history and association with the last Russian Imperial family, regular services are held in memory of Nicholas II and his family, all of whom were murdered on July 17th, 1918.

Emperor Nicholas II is also commemorated with a bronze bust erected in the garden located in behind the Cathedral in 1993.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 05 September, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:52 PM EDT
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Medvedev Unveils Newly-Restored Arch of Triumph
Topic: Moscow


Photo Credit: RIA Novosti 

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended the solemn unveiling on Tuesday of the newly-restored Arch of Triumph in Moscow.

Through that arch Russian regiments made their victorious return to Moscow after defeating Napoleon in the war of 1812.

One of the first monuments built to commemorate that glorious victory, the Arch of Triumph symbolizes a great patriotic upswing in the consciousness of the Russian people, the prime minster said.

© Interfax and RIA Novosti. 05 September, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:34 AM EDT
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Museum of Patriotic War of 1812 Opens in Moscow
Topic: Museums


Field Marshal Kutuzov’s notes, an ashtray made from a hoof of a horse belonging to Denis Davydov, Napoleon’s sabre, are among exhibits at the newly opened War of 1812 museum in Moscow.

The new museum is located outside the Moscow State Historical Museum on Red Square where a large exhibition took place in 1912 to mark the centenary of the Patriotic War of 1812.

The recently unveiled exhibition is organized in a two-storey pavilion featuring a great variety of rarities, including military maps and personal belongings. The opening of the museum appears to be a truly landmark occasion in a series of events celebrating the 200th anniversary of Russia’s victory over Napoleon. 

A large piece of a mural painting from the Christ the Savior Cathedral which was blown up in 1931 catches your eye as soon as you enter the museum. The cathedral was built in late 19th century to celebrate Russia’s victory over Napoleon. There you can also see a large screen showing a film about the Napoleonic Wars. The exhibition combines traditional glass museum display cases and multimedia. “There are no accidental exhibits here”, the organizers say. Kirill Meerov, who runs the information department at the Historical Museum, showed the VoR`s correspondent around the museum. 

“Just look: this is a throne which belonged to Emperor Alexander I. He asked for a throne similar to the one owned by Napoleon to be made for him but with different symbolic engravings. The one owned by Napoleon is on display at Versailles, and Alexander`s throne can be seen at our museum in Moscow”. 

The collection also features authentic pieces of the Russian army uniform, as well as items from Alexander`s field church, portraits of the heroes of the Borodino Battle, and the ribbon of the Order of Saint Andrew the First-Called worn by General Pyotr Bagration when he was fatally wounded during the Borodino Battle. Things once belonged to Field Marshal Kutuzov are being displayed separately: his decorations, tableware, small telescope and notes he made during the Battle of Borodino. Visitors can also see French cannons and a field kitchen used by the French army, and Napoleon’s sleigh he boarded to flee Russia. Some exhibits are really outstanding. For example, Napoleon’s sabre: in 1814 he presented it to Alexander`s aide, General Shuvalov shortly after the two had swapped their coats. Why did they do that? Napoleon could have been killed on his way to the island of Elba, and to avoid this the Russian general put on Napoleon`s coat at the risk of his life.

It looks that the newly opened War of 1812 museum in Moscow will attract plenty of visitors interested in learning many interesting stories behind 2,000 exhibits on display.

© The Voice of Russia. 05 September, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:20 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2012 12:49 PM EDT
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Restoration of Imperial Traveling Palace at Tver
Topic: Palaces

Photo Credit: 

The restoration of the Imperial Traveling Palace at Tver has begun with the symbolic ceremony of the transfer of the keys to the 18th-century monument over to the builders and restorers. Residents of Tver and the entire Tver Region have been waiting for this day for 20 years.

The palace was constructed in the Classical style with some elements of Baroque.  It was intended as a resting place for members of the Russian Imperial family as they travelled from St. Petersburg to Moscow. It also served as a residence for the Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna (1788-1819) and her spouse, Duke George of Oldenburg (1784-1812), who served as governor of the region up until his death in 1812 due to typhoid fever.

The historic interiors and décor will be restored in the former Romanov palace over the next three years. These will be based on surviving sketches, photos and inventories of the pre-war period. The palace garden and surrounding landscape will also be restored.

Restoration costs will amout to three billion rubles; most of the amount - 1.8 billion – has been allocated by the World Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The rest of the money will be provided from the budgets of Tver and the Tver

© Russia Info-Center. 05 September, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:18 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2012 2:11 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Tsarskoye Selo in 1941
Now Playing: Source: ITAR-TASS. Language: NA. Duration: 47 seconds.
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo

Dimitri Silbermann, a Berlin-based collector and researcher, has shared with the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve the digital copies of nineteen photographs from his private collection showing Tsarskoye Selo in about the end of 1941.

Mr Silbermann established that the original 6 x 9 cm pictures were made by an amateur photographer from the 58th Infantry Division, a unit of the German Army (Wehrmacht) under Generalleutnant Friedrich Altrichter then quartered in Uritsk (now South Western St Petersburg).

Being of historical importance, these photographs greatly compliment the Museum collection which so far has had wartime pictures taken as early as 1942, when a number of the Tsarskoye Selo monuments were already destroyed and the objects left behind were looted and moved to Germany.

The photos of 1941 show the Nazis posing complacently on the background of yet intact interiors of the Catherine Palace and having a coronation mockery scene possibly in one of the Antechambers. We can see the pre-war décors in the park pavilions, the later completely destroyed icons in the Palace Chapel, the bronze Hercules and Flora still on their pedestals at the Cameron Gallery.

Many details from the history of the German occupation of Pushkin town are unknown yet. Archived in hundreds of places around the world, the documents of that period are still waiting to be researched. That is why any photographic materials showing Tsarskoye Selo with its palaces and parks during 1941–44 are so important.

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. 04 September, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:05 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2012 8:09 AM EDT
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